Boxing's Disinformation Dilemma

By Robert Ecksel on February 12, 2020

The fight was a barnburner from the opening to closing bell. (Amanda Wescott/Showtime)

Last week’s tripleheader from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was worth the price of admission. Two elite fighters, Gary Russell Jr. and Guillermo Rigondeaux, burnished their pound-for-pound reputations with decision victories over Tugstsogt "King Tug" Nyambayar and Liborio Solis, respectively, and both won their bouts fair and square without any help from the judges. The same cannot be said of the opening fight on the televised portion of the card, a non-title affair between Jaime Arboleda and Jayson Veléz in a WBA super featherweight title eliminator, which happened to be the most competitive and action-packed fight of the night.

 

That fight was a barnburner from the opening to closing bell. Arboleda and Veléz threw 1,800-plus punches, of which more than 500 connected. There was no defense to speak of, but that hardly mattered under the circumstances, and the give-and-take nature of the bout made it difficult to score going into the 12th.

 

Even though the action had been sizzling hot, Veléz turned up the heat by totally dominating and dropping Arboleda, who looked like he was out on his feet, in the final round. That round could have been scored 10-8, or even 10-7 if the referee, Eric Dali, had acknowledged that Arboleda, who for all intents and purposes was the house fighter, had touched down two or three times, not once, insuring that the hot prospect with the starry future would be awarded the victory.

 

While waiting for the final scorecards to be tabulated, I was staring at Arboleda’s promoter, the usually cheery Sampson, who looked as if he was seasick. I don’t read minds, but do observe facial expressions, and Lewkowicz appeared to be wondering how in God’s name they were going to give it to his fighter. He needn’t have worried. One judge, Glenn Feldman, had it 115-112 for Veléz, while the other judges, Bernard Bruni and Eric Marlinski, both scored it 114-113 for Arboleda.

 

The crowd began booing when the scores were announced. It was a damn good fight. The same cannot be said about the decision. Steve Farhood scored it 114-113 for Veléz, while his colleague Al Bernstein, who’s a lovely guy who never speaks ill of any fighter, to the exclusion of Adrien Broner, went into apologist mode with reasoning that flirted with the incomprehensible. Even the fans that participated in Showtime’s post-fight poll and had no vested interest in who was awarded the decision had Veléz the winner by a 64% to 36% margin.

 

The press, allowing for a few blessed exceptions, repeated the party line. Whether they lack the courage of their convictions, or simply lack any courage or convictions whatsoever, is for others to decide.

 

We’re heard the excuses for inexcusable decisions, which range from boxing is subjective to “Boxing is the red light district of sports,” a million times. The sport is both those things, in addition to being a business, and business usually wins in the end.